Phone Stacking Meal Game–Dinner 1.0

You know that guy, maybe you are that guy. At dinner with friends, even a romantic dinner always checking your smart phone. AT&T even portrayed ‘him’ in a recent commercial:

Too much face time with his phone during a romantic dinner.

On a recent episode of The Office, Ryan gave up his place in an important trivia game rather than put down his smart phone.

So it maybe shouldn’t be a surprise to walk into a restaurant, or night club and see groups of people young and old all at the same table, but interacting with their phones more than each other. Don’t we get enough fake social interaction during the course of a day? It is asking too much to put down the Words with Friends app, and actually have some real words with real friends?

Credit for inventing this game generally goes to 20-year old Stephie from CA, and her blog post titled “Don’t be a di*k during meals with Friends”. Recently, it’s more likely to be called by the less offensive, “Phone Stacking”. Following are the rules from her site:

Introducing our new game called:

“Don’t Be A Di*k During Meals With Friends.”

The first person to crack and look at their phone picks up the check.

Our (initial) purpose of the game was to get everyone off the phones free from twitter/fb/texting and to encourage conversations.


1) The game starts after everyone has ordered.

2) Everybody places their phone on the table face down.

3) The first person to flip over their phone loses the game.

4) Loser of the game pays for the bill.

5) If the bill comes before anyone has flipped over their phone everybody is declared a winner and pays for their own meal.

Variations/house rules:

-Starting the game after everyone is seated.

-In the rare event that multiple people flip their phones simultaneously, the bill is split between said players.

– Feel free to invoke penalties/strikes systems.


– No touching or messing with anybody else’s phones.

– You don’t have to stack the phones. This was done for picture taking purposes.

– I realize I should perhaps think of a different name for this awesome game. Because I don’t mean to imply that everyone who checks their phone during meals is a di*k.

– I recommend not being such a stickler or hardass on people about the rules and even initiation of the game. Basic premise is to just get people open to the idea of staying active and attentive to one another. But if someone has to take a call; they have to take a call =).

– Have fun! It’s really more of a fun concept in this new age high tech life of ours. Conversation is the spice of life.


There are times a phone can add value to a conversation. For example, quoting a recent blog story (like this one). Calculating a walking distance, currency conversions, or to answer that obscure trivia question.

However, the vast majority of phone interaction does not occur with people at the table. Which leaves these people directly adjacent to you feeling less important. By not allowing phones, you are more active and entertaining to the people you are with.

I’m a geek. I check my smart phone a lot. It wouldn’t be that difficult to go the course of a meal without looking at it. I have little doubt it would be a more enjoyable dinner experience for everyone. I’m eager to try it. Watch the faces of people as their Androids, iPhones, Blackberrys and Windows Phones start to blink, buzz, chirp and ring. Will we make it through the evening? Will someone break down, thinking that text message, twitter feed  or voicemail is worth the price of everyone else’s dinner?

Since I’m going to play this game next time I’m out with friends. there’s 1 or 2 friends that could surely be counted on for a free meal. But the free meal not being my goal, I simply look forward to the meal experience with direct eye contact, thoughtful discussion and attentive participants. Maybe next time we can go even a step further, and leave the phones in the car.

Would you try this? Would the tension be too much? Would you secretly be calculating the cost of everyone’s dinner—or to do that would you need your smart phone? Maybe you’d be more like Ryan on The Office. After hearing the rules, leave early. Can’t play by them rules!